RUGBY WITH HEART

It was always going to be a challenge, DirectAxis False Bay’s last match of the season, which became their penultimate through a shuffle of fixtures. Sir Lowrian’s, in the heart of the Helderberg Mountains was the challenge the Constantia outfit had to overcome to measure their character away from home. The Bay overcame the hosts 40-10 after leading 19-10 at the break and now head for their final match against UCT at Constantia on Saturday.

Newly promoted Sir Lowrians have been the lithmus test for many a more established team this season. One of three clubs emanating from the greater Helderberg area, they are by far the better performing of the trio. Sporting former Springboks flyhalf Earl Rose and lock Quinton Davids amongst their personnel, the home team play with heart and determination and with a passionate capacity crowd always in attendance, it is heart-stopping fare every home fixture.

The Bay knew that they had to stamp their authority on the match from the outset. With five of their top players representing the WP Emerging team in Saldanha Bay, playing three gruelling matches in six days, and with further late withdrawals to contend with, it was the Bay who had to demonstrate their character.

By the end of the first quarter the visitors had notched up a 19 point lead, capitalising on a yellow card, scoring two tries during the ten minute reduction of Sir Lowrian’s personnel. The second quarter was different as the hosts clawed back with two tries of their own. During this period they looked very dangerous with ball in hand, Rose central to many of their scything attacks on the Bay lines.

False Bay seemed to lose direction during this period, compounded by the loss of captain Michael Poppmeier who limped off the pitch. Replacement lock Pallo Manual continued his fine form and caught the eye in set pieces and loose play. His lineout work, together with that of Graham Knoop was a feature of the Constantia team’s performance. Flank Willie Coetzee was again outstanding at the breakdown and on the run, while at the back fullback Adnaan Osman and centre Wesley Hamilton often had hearts aflutter with their deft footwork.

Sir Lowrians too suffered a key injury when Rose had to leave the field early in the second stanza with a suspected concussion. This coincided with the Bay’s reaction to a stern tongue-lashing from coach Johnno van der Walt over oranges during the break, and from then on the visitors showed their superiority as they extended their lead to the final tally.  

The Super League A is heading towards a remarkable finish for positions one to four. Maties were again crowned SLA Champions last weekend but it is the battle for second position which has grabbed the attention of the Club Rugby lovers. Hamiltons have finished their fixtures and have to quietly sit back and watch the very interesting tussle between DirectAxis False Bay and UCT at Constantia on Saturday. They will relinquish that second spot to either of the teams on the pitch that day. If UCT gain two league points, they are likely to leapfrog the Sea Point club (points difference being a consideration). Four league points for the Bay makes them runners up, but even just two points makes them winners as they end above Hamiltons and consequently automatically qualify for the Community Cup, the top finishing non-university club in each province going through.

The match doubles as the Mark Jordaan Challenge, an annual contest between the two clubs in honour of a popular member of both clubs who suffered a fatal heart attack in his rugby prime.

As a part of their outreach programme, False Bay are championing Heart Awareness Month in conjunction with the Heart & Stroke foundation of South Africa. Tuesday, Spring Day, the foundation undertook a screening of the club’s players and members as a part of a National awareness drive. Players from all the club’s teams were tested, reminding all that heart disease is not a curse of the old. In attendance were former False Bay First XV lock Mark Agnew and his brother Kevin, very recently returned from the World Transplant Games which took place in Argentina. The brothers have both undergone heart transplants, proof of the value of regular checks. Mark earned a Gold for discus and a Silver for shot-putt, while Kevin earned a Silver for Individual Golf.

Saturday’s match between False Bay and UCT kicks off at 4pm at Constantia with the Third XV starting proceedings at 1.30pm. It’s a day guaranteed to have everyone’s hearts in their throats. All are welcome.